According to tradition, it was on this day that the angel of the Lord commanded Gideon to attack the Midianites as recorded in the book of Judges.
Now the Angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth tree which was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon threshed wheat in the winepress, in order to hide it from the Midianites. And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said to him, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!” Gideon said to Him, “O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.” Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?” (Judges 6:11-14)
I’ve always found it interesting that Gideon is called “mighty man of valor” even as he is hiding in the winepress, threshing out the wheat, trying to hide it from the Midianites. It seems that he was a bit agitated by the angel’s statement, “the LORD is with you.” Gideon responded with a reference to the Exodus and, in so many words, asked, “If the LORD is with us, then why are the bad guys thriving while we are suffering? If the LORD is with us, then show me because I’m not seeing it.”
One of the things that occurs to me each year during the feast of unleavened bread is, by day four my appetite is craving something that has yeast – a donut, a piece of bread, a hamburger or something. Our appetite and the desire to satisfy it demonstrates to us that, by commanding us to eat unleavened bread, the Creator is instructing us to control our appetites and deny ourselves. He is teaching us that we must master those inclinations that would prompt us to reach out and take hold of things far deadlier than a donut. When we continually give into these desires, eventually “the Midianites” show up, stealing, killing and destroying. That’s when we begin to cry out, “Lord, where are you? Help me!” God does hear that cry and, as we see in the story of Gideon, He shows up to deliver us. But when He does, He calls upon us – the men and women of valor – to move into action.
It is common for us, at different times in our lives, to feel that our enemies are prevailing over us. And, during those times, it’s easy to start thinking, “Lord, if You’re with us, then why are all these bad things happening?” When we are feeling this way, we should stop and consider whether our situation is the consequence of our own actions and choices. Still, we cry out, “Save me!”
For all who may be praying for victory over the enemy, this season teaches us that the appointed time of deliverance is at hand. However, we must remember that when that time comes, like Gideon, we will be called upon to play our role in this deliverance. We should also remember that God compels us to act with valor even if we, like Gideon, consider ourselves to be insignificant.
So, he said to Him, “O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” And the Lord said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man.” (Judges 6:15-16)
During this special time of year, let our hearts be open and our ears be sensitive to hear and receive the instruction of the Lord. Let us be determined to follow through with what He’s instructing us to do. Our deliverance, and the deliverance of others, may be dependent upon our obedience. In my opinion, there is no better time to learn how to deny ourselves and be obedient to the LORD than during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.